Praying for our Nation on the Current Events
After Cowboy Church on Sunday I went to my office to watch the 11:00 service on Facebook and to offer comments during the service. At noon, when that service was over, I drove toward home on South Nevada. There I encountered the protesters around City Hall. It was a fairly large group and was growing larger by the second! In sleepy old Colorado Springs people were carrying signs and chanting things and making their voices heard.
Just down the street from the church.
Like many of you, I have watched the news and read articles about the protests, not only here, but across the world. It seems clear that the death of George Floyd was unnecessary and unjust. The combination of that act, with a growing frustration due to the recent months of isolation, and a number of other deaths of unarmed black men have created a firestorm of protest and in some cases rioting and looting. Due the deep political divide in our nation we see increasing acts of anger and even violence, and clear lines drawn between those who believe every cop is corrupt and those who believe no cop is corrupt. Of course, neither side is correct. There are corrupt cops, just like there are corrupt preachers, and corrupt folks in every profession. The police officers I know are deeply committed to their community and to serving the people that reside here. But it is also clear that there have been actions that are horrible, unjust, and seemingly racially motivated. It is not unsupportive of our first responders to point those actions out!
I must admit that I have been impressed by the statements and actions of our Colorado Springs Police Department. Their statements have been thoughtful, measured, and compassionate. I have seen a video of one of our police officers patiently and caringly interacting with protestors. I hope our police department can be a model for departments around the country.
The bigger issue, of course, is what do we do about the systemic and deeply seated racism in our culture and in our institutions? I want to talk about that in my sermon for next week, as it relates to our job to take the gospel to the world. I also want to say that I believe that we in the church have a unique responsibility and opportunity to be a place of healing and hope. I suspect that you may be tired of me saying this, but I believe that we as United Methodists are uniquely positioned to be a place where people from all sorts of ideologies and beliefs can find a safe place to talk and listen and find ways to be together in love despite our differences. We are the people of the “big tent” church and welcome all people. I believe with all of my heart that our first step is not to offer advice on what to do, but to take the time to listen to each other. Pray for our nation. Pray for our church. And listen to your neighbor.
For almost 150 years, we have been a witness to God’s love from the heart of Colorado Springs. We must continue to be a voice for the voiceless and protector of the most vulnerable. Your leadership is committed to offering life and hope to our community. In these days we need that more than ever. It is time for each of us to examine our hearts and let God heal us so that we can heal others. All of these events are happening “down the street from the church.” These are our neighbors. God’s children. May God use us to bring light to this darkness.